Colts-Bucs Odds, Predictions, Picks: Why Our Expert Is Laying the Points With Tampa Bay in Week 12
Julio Aguilar/Getty Images. Pictured: Tom Brady.
- Buccaneers vs. Colts odds are steadfast at Tampa -3 as of late Sunday morning, making it the perfect time to lock in this spread bet.
- See why our expert is bullish on the spread here, but only at the right number.
|Time||1 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.|
The Colts are winners of three straight and are suddenly in contention for the AFC South. They are hosting the 7-3 Buccaneers, who righted the ship last week (following consecutive losses to teams with losing records) in a rout of the Giants.
This game promises fireworks, with two top-five scoring offenses squaring off. However, a pair of very strong defenses are taking the field too, with both units being inside the top 10 in DVOA.
Click the arrow to expand injury reports
Bucs vs. Colts Injury Report
- WR Antonio Brown (ankle): Out
- G Ali Marpet (abdomen): Doubtful
- DL Vita Vea (knee): Questionable
- LB Devin White (quad): Questionable
- OG Quinton Nelson (ankle): Questionable
- LB Darius Leonard (ankle): Questionable
Bucs vs. Colts Matchup
|Bucs Offense||DVOA Rank||Colts Defense|
|Bucs Defense||DVOA Rank||Colts Offense|
|Football Outsiders’ DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team’s success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.|
Expect Bucs Offense to Stay Aerial
Led by the ageless Tom Brady, Tampa Bay’s offense continues to be the best in the league. For the second straight year, the Buccaneers are averaging over 30 points per game. While they have a top-five rushing offense by DVOA, the passing attack is clearly the main attraction. Tampa attempts the most passes per game of any team, while ranking first in DVOA.
Especially in today’s NFL, passing is the more efficient way to move the ball. No team has embraced that more than the Bucs. That mindset is perfect this week against the Colts, who feature a stifling run defense but struggle against the pass. Many teams in the league would likely still try to “establish it,” but expect Tampa to keep the ball in Brady’s hands, regardless of the score.
Tampa’s rock-solid offensive line is key to that being a successful strategy. Tampa’s unit ranks first in adjusted sack rate. It has allowed the fewest sacks on the year, despite attempting the most passes. That unit also explains the success of the Bucs run game. The Bucs rank fifth in DVOA (which is calculated on a per-play basis), despite featuring Jaguars cast-off Leonard Fournette in the backfield.
Of course, the Bucs defense is excellent as well. It’s tied for ninth in points allowed per game and seventh in overall DVOA. This too starts up front. The line allows the fifth-fewest adjusted line yards, meaning running lanes for Jonathan Taylor will be hard to come by.
Meanwhile, Expect Colts to Hand it to Jonathan Taylor
The Colts offense is the polar opposite of Tampa Bay’s unit. It ranks second in rushing DVOA but is a middling 19th in passing. Fortunately for them, they have Jonathan Taylor. His breakaway speed gives the Colts a “deep threat” without having to throw the ball downfield. It’s a very tough matchup for the Colts run game, but their star back gives them the chance to succeed anyway.
There’s been a noticeable shift in Taylor’s usage as of late. He averaged just over 15 carries per game through the first eight weeks, topping out at 18. The Colts were 3-5 in that span. Since then, he’s averaging 24 carries (and over four targets) per game. The Colts are a perfect 3-0 in that span. Keeping Taylor fresh sounds nice in theory, but they’re a far better team with the ball in his hands.
Like their Week 12 opponents, the Colts feature a strong defense. However, they go about it differently. They have the second-best run defense in the league by DVOA, but rank 20th against the pass. That’s not ideal against a Bucs team designed to win through the air.
The lack of a pass rush is a major problem for the Colts this week. Their adjusted sack rate is 28th in the league and is unlikely to get much better against the Bucs offensive front. Giving Brady time to survey the field has never been a recipe for success. Indianapolis ranks in the bottom-third or so of the league in most defensive passing metrics. It did intercept Josh Allen and limit the Bills to only 15 points last week, but the famously wild Allen is no Tom Brady
Bucs vs. Colts Prediction
This is a very interesting matchup between two teams that are strong on both sides of the ball. However, the interaction of those strengths will be the key to this one. The Colts’ stiff run defense is of little value against the Bucs, who only reluctantly run the ball. Their struggles to defend the pass are concerning, especially against Brady.
On the other side of the ball, the Bucs’ (almost) equally tough run defense is much more crucial to this matchup. While Taylor and the Colts rushing offense has gotten it done in tough spots before (like against the Bills last week), it’s a very big ask against Tampa Bay. Taylor will likely bust a few big plays in this one, but moving the chains consistently is a different story. While the Buccaneers have had their struggles in the secondary, forcing Carson Wentz to keep up with Brady favors Tampa.
The spread on this game opened at Tampa -1 before being bet down to -3 throughout the week. Obviously, laying the key number of three isn’t optimal, especially on a road favorite. Still, the Bucs don’t really take their feet off the gas pedal, throwing deep into games regardless of the score. This game could play close throughout but still have a somewhat lopsided final total. I’m taking the Bucs -3 at -110 odds, but no lower.
Pick: Bucs -3 | Bet to: Bucs -3
|More Bucs-Colts Odds, Picks, Trends|